Councilmember Jeff Oestreich, (far right) is council's representative on the Planning Commission and is quite studied on the dynamics of the Industrial Park/distillery/greenhouse proposal, as is Village Administrator Jamie Hall. (file photo)
Councilmember Jeff Oestreich, (far right) is council's representative on the Planning Commission and is quite studied on the dynamics of the Industrial Park/distillery/greenhouse proposal, as is Village Administrator Jamie Hall. (file photo)

ADA — When you think Ada, Ohio, footballs, yes, and Polar Bears, too, are most apt to come to mind. Whiskey and hemp, well, not so much.

But that could soon change.

Ada Village Council Tuesday night moved an Ada Planning Commission recommendation along to change the zoning in the Ada Industrial Park to allow for a proposed distillery that included a retail gift shop/restaurant.

Tuesday night was a “first reading” for this ordinance (there will be two more readings before it receives final approval, or not). And while a “public meeting” on this topic was planned at the start of the council meeting, no members of the public showed.

The council’s representative on the Planning Commission is Jeff Oestreich. He said while the village has been approached by two business partners who are in initial discussions with the village about the distillery, nothing formal has been worked out yet.

In fact, the zoning change, if it goes through, is merely one of the initial phases in allowing for negotiations to continue. The specific zoning change would allow for the retail arm — gift shop and restaurant — of the distillery.

The partners are Billy Watterson and Troy Erickson of Ada Boyz Holdings, LLC. Ada Village Administrator Jamie Hall said both men are graduates of both Ada High School and the University of Findlay.

What’s more, Mr. Hall said they also own a distillery — Burnt Church Distillery — in, of all places, Bluffton, South Carolina.

Mr. Hall said the zoning change, allowing for retail/wholesale store arms, and such, would bring Ada’s Industrial Park more up to the speed with other Industrial Parks across the country that are trending that way.

The Ada distillery dynamics could include a combination of distilling whiskey and growing hemp, specifically for the plant’s CBD oil, continued Mr. Oestreich. He said the oil is used for “holistic healing/medicinal purposes,” and is legal in Ohio.

Mr. Hall said the hemp growing is tentatively being talked about as a “second phase,” and this would include the establishment of some greenhouses. And, again, while there has been no purchase agreement, Mr. Hall said the company is currently looking at a 10-acre parcel. Mr. Oestreich added that there has been significant discussion in regard to monitoring outflow from the potential distillery / greenhouse operation, revolving around safeguarding the water from any residues, and such.

Councilmember Terry Keiser, who is usually in touch with “…all things environmental,” said hemp was actually grown in the Scioto Marsh many years ago.

Speaking of Mr. Keiser, he explained after the meeting that letters will soon be going out from the Village Administrator’s Office apprising residents about dead trees.

Mr. Keiser, who has been Ada’s forester the past 35 years, said he is able to eyeball from the street, usually, if there is a dead tree on someone’s private property that needs to come down.

“How?” I asked.

“Easy,” he smiled. “Generally, there’s no leaves or bark. Anyone can do this job.”

Mr. Keiser added that bids have also just gone out for the removal of 16 village trees in public right-of-ways in the village as well.

And Police Chief Michael Harnishfeger also explained, outside the meeting, that his department plans to move into their rehabbed offices in the Municipal Building in about three weeks – if things go smoothly.